I have always had a passion for cars and motor sport as long as I can remember and soon became a huge Ford fanatic after my Dad took me to watch my first stock car race at the Goodwood Oval in 1967. I soon became a Bill Lenz fan and often dreamed about racing with these guys whom I regarded as being my heroes. My dream however became reality many years later in 1984 when I was offered a 1958 Ford stock car by veteran driver Doep du Plessis. The car was already reinforced but needed a motor, gearbox, differential and also a set of wheels.
Although the car was extremely heavy and a bit out of date for the time when compared to the light weight Flexis that were currently running, I still jumped at the opportunity and what the hell, it was a Ford. I soon realised that I had a lot to do if I wanted to get the car ready for the opening of the 1985 season and managed to purchase a 302 Ford Windsor motor and gearbox for R700. The only problem was that everything was in a thousand pieces and not being very mechanical minded, didn’t really know where to start. I luckily had a good friend who used to do mechanical work in his spare time and offered to do the job for me. Unfortunately it turned out to be a bit of a rush job as he had almost left it to late and found ourselves bolting the motor onto it's mountings on the morning of qualifying day.
Amazingly and not a day to late, we managed to get the car to the oval on time and was able to put in a couple of laps with the car which was still sporting pink primer and cutting the day short short with a burst radiator hose. Many late nights were spent on the car and often till the early hours of the morning with the support of family and friends. I also approached our local garage, Blue Route Service Centre and managed to obtain sponsorship in the form of petrol and a brand new set of Bandag tyres. At that stage I also had to have a set of two 4-
A rather humorous incident was when my car suddenly lost power down the pit straight. Convinced that my gearbox had broke, I freed the car towards the infield retiring from the race. Much later after my car had been towed back to the pits, a kid looking quite proud of himself approached me carrying my cars driveshaft over his shoulder. After expressing my appreciation I was pleased to learn that it wasn’t the gearbox after all.
The worst part about stock car racing was to wake up on a Sunday morning to assess all the damage to the car and then realising how much body work there is to be done. Many drivers were importing performance parts for their cars at that time and the sport had become to expensive for me to compete and I decided to retire at the end of the 86 season.
All that is left to say is this was undoubtedly the most exhilarating and adrenalin rushing experience ever. The smell Of enamel paint, petrol, dust, vibrations and heat of the exhaust, the amazing sound and power of the V8 engine will remain with me forever.
Nervous and excited I soon found myself sitting on the front row for my first race and surrounded by some mean looking machinery. You could say that I was thrown into the deep end, being up againt many legends and with absolutely no experience. The flag drops and all the concentration is focused on the fantastic pull away that you have just made and thinking of the nice gap that you have created only to receive a rude awakening in the form of a hard thump on your rear bumper by a faster car behind you and edging you on. To cut a long story short the season was a bit disastrous with an underpowered motor and bad sump compression. Being quite fed up with the motor by the end of the season we decided to drop my road car's motor into the stock car for the 1986 season. The motor was a Ford 351 Cleveland from my 76 Fairlane and soon discovered that we would be needing the “diff” as well. With the opening of the 86 season the car was still not able to win any races due to my lack of experience, but a big improvement as far as performance and reliability is concerned and the season turned out to be better than the previous.
An adrenalin pumping moment as I prepare for my debut outing (1985)
My most scariest moment must have been an incident involving myself and the late Coenie Lombard in 1985. It all began when at the start of the race, when I managed to make a clean get away from the front row despite a couple of nudges from the rear. At the blink of an eye my car suddenly changed direction while at full throttle down the pit straight. My view quickly changed from seeing the track ahead of me to an unwelcomed sight of the white wall directly in front of me. Convinced that this is it, and that I was about to smack the wall head on, I braced myself for a hard impact. Stretching my arms towards the steering, pushing my body back into the seat and closing my eyes I waited for the large bang. To my amazement I felt no impact and peeping with one eye discovered that the car had come to rest across the track and facing the wall. As most drivers tend to run wide coming our of the Epping corner, almost clipping the wall, I soon realised that my car was now stranded in a dangerous position directly in their racing line. Not knowing what to expect, noticed a number of thundering V8’s bearing down on me at top speed. With no time to climb out of the car, I suppose you could say I was a sitting duck. Maraculously most of them managed to avoid taking the rear end of my car with them as they zoomed past. Suddenly the black Camaro of Coenie seemed to appear out of nowhere and had no option but to watch the horrified sight of his car heading straght towards me at high speed. I remember using some fowl language #@?/-
The unreliable 302 motor
The result of a heavy T-
Me and my stock car just before the start of the 86 season. The motor from my road car (as seen in the background was later used in this car
Track marshal Awie van der Westhuizen behind the wheel during a pit mechanics race (1985) [The crumpled door was from an earlier racing incident]
Doep du Plessis
Special Thanks to:
• My sponsors – Blue Route Service Centre and Motorcraft
• Track Marshall Awie van der Westhuizen for spending many late nights helping in many ways often till the early hours of the morning
• My good friend the late Johnny Kirschner for mechanical assistance and support
• My late Father-
• My Brother Derek for towing my car to and from every race meeting
• Doep du Plessis for making this all happen
Off the Track
Bottom left -
Bill Lenz Big John Geldenhuys Coenie Lombard
These hand made models were built by myself many years ago. They are of 1/32 scale and made mainly from plastic ice cream containers.
The oil painting of my car (above) was done by myself in Feb 2007
This plastic model of my car I built in 2002. The scale is about 1/18 and took me 3 months to build ( also built from ice cream containers and various other scrap pieces of plastic.
• A dream becomes reality in 1985
• Just in time to qualify
• A disappointing first season
• V8 engine from road car goes racing
• My scariest moment
• No power! Humorous incident
• Sunday morning blues
|In The Beginning|
|The Birth of hell driving|
|The way it was|
|The Ranger Stunt Team|
|The need for speed|
|Deon de Waal|
|(Late) Bill Lenz|
|(Late) Louis Borel Saladin|
|Kees van der Coolwijk|
|Gary van Oudtshoorn|
|Johnny van Niekerk|
|Frans du Toit|
|Vodeo clips / Links|